This has been a rough year. I have had a bunch of medical issues. I have had two surgeries and countless procedures, tests and doctor visits. My kids have been very sweet. They have been very worried and they are constantly praying for my healing. I have felt tremendous love from my squad. But Pippa is getting angry.
She knows that my immune system is compromised right now and she imagines that every person she meets has Covid. She says that way she remembers to stay 6 feet away.
A few months ago at school, she was playing in the park at recess. Two girls were swinging together on one swing. Pippa told them that wasn’t safe. One girl told her “the pandemic is fake.” Pippa quickly responded, “tell that to the hundreds of thousands of people who died.” Mic drop.
She came home annoyed. Annoyed that kids don’t care about safety or keeping their parents or grandparents safe. She cries almost everyday because she misses her grandparents and family so much. This is the longest time in her life that she hasn’t seen her people. She said she misses Papa kissing her and hugging her. She misses my mom’s cooking, especially her baked beans. She lists silly things like my brother playing toys with her, or my nephew dancing. Small things add up when you don’t see an end in sight.
Then last week it was too cold (50°F) to eat outside for lunch at school and Pippa was told they had to eat in the cafeteria. Pippa promptly told her teacher that her mom was sick and she didn’t want to bring home Covid to me. She said she needed to eat alone. I NEVER told her to do this. I NEVER suggested she should exclude herself from her class and eat alone. She did it because she is filled with love and she knows that our numbers here in South Carolina are through the roof. She knows many people who had the virus and were very sick. We know people who have died from the virus. It is very real to our family.
Her teacher, very kindly, gave her a quiet room to eat in alone. As Pippa got up to leave the cafeteria, two girls yelled after her, “Democrat.” The word was disgusting to them. Like my child was the worst kind of person. What could be worse than a Democrat, right?
I asked Pippa if she was upset by them yelling that out to her. Her response was perfect. “Why would I care? I believe in science and I love my mom. Their words can’t hurt me.”
I cried. Then I cried some more. I received an email from her teacher letting me know of Pippa’s choice to eat alone. I responded with how proud of I am of her to care so much about me and how awesome it was to have such strong convictions.
Convictions can lead you astray. We watched that last week when the Capitol was stormed. The world, and most certainly America, is in a very tenuous position. More people are dying daily for Covid-19 and even more people seem to still think it is fake. Almost every day I think about a news report about a man dying in South Dakota of Covid. The nurse who cared for him said that his last dying words were, “but this virus is fake.” Convictions are powerful and can be deadly. Parents pass along their beliefs to their children, but they shouldn’t pass along hate. Clearly, in some homes the word Democrat is evil or else the girls wouldn’t have launched it at my daughter like a weapon. It is fine to have a different opinion. It is fine to disagree, but how you disagree defines you. I have explained to my daughters that not everyone believes what we do, but that doesn’t make them any less human. We need to teach our children that convictions are wonderful and powerful, but when they are left unchecked or are used to hurt, they cease to be convictions and they become an excuse to be evil and ugly.
I am not sure where Pippa finds her strength. When she was little, I quoted Maya Angelou to her often. My favorite quote was “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” In kindergarten, a girl swore at her. She told the teacher. The next day in the playground the girl came at her again and she said the above quote to her. The teacher overheard and was shocked that this little girl was quoting a poet.
My hopes for Pippa and the world is that they don’t let their convictions lead them astray. How we disagree is the most important lesson we can teach our children right now. We need that more than ever….and a little more kindness.